About Senegal

Senegal, 196722 square kilometers is located in the westernmost part of the continent of Africa. It is limited in the West by the Atlantic Ocean, in the North by Mauritania, in the East by Mali and in the South by Bissau Guinea and the Republic of Guinea. Its southern region of Casamance shares a border with the Republic of Gambia.

Senegal has the required assets for a blooming tourism industry. It is only a few hours away from major tourist markets; five hours away from Western Europe and about seven hours away from the East Coast of the United States. Besides it is a sunny country claiming more than 3000 hours of sunshine yearly. All forms of tourism can be experienced in Senegal seaside resorts (leisure, aquatic sports, horseback riding, discovery and more), cultural tourism, bird watching, sport tourism (hunting, scuba diving), ecotourism, historic museums, gorgeous natural sites, six major game parks and reserves, diversified fauna and flora to name a few.

Despite various influences (Western influence due to a long French presence in West Africa, Middle Eastern influence due to a tradition of multiple exchanges with North Africa and Arab Countries), Senegal has its own brand of exotic music, food and customs that gives it the right dash of spice.

Its weather is tropical, hot and humid: the rainy season (May to November) has some strong southeast winds;  the dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, humid and harmattan winds.

Senegal is home to some of the most photographed beaches in the world. The reefs and cays of the coastal are heaven for divers, holding out the promise of such extraordinary sightings of the underworld.

Dakar, the melting pot capital city, is one of the busiest cruise ships port in Africa and boasts an exciting restaurant and club scene, as well as duty-free shopping. Tourism in Senegal is a vital part of this West African nation’s economy. Tourists, mostly French and Italian, visit this former French colony for its beaches, wildlife and rich culture and history. Gorée Island, formerly a centre of the West African slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, draws many visitors. The main entrance point is Dakar-Yoff International Airport.

Principal cities of interest include the capital, Dakar; Saint-Louis, an old colonial town; and the Mouride holy centre of Touba.

Scale

From a relatively small industry at the introduction of the first Club Med resort in the 1970s, Tourism has grown to be an important part of the Senegalese economy. Since the 1990s, Senegal has made an effort to reach beyond visitors from the former colonial power France, in part motivated by the example of neighboring Gambia which draws a relatively larger tourist share from Northern Europe and the Americas to its Banjul coastal resorts in 2008, Senegal’s foreign tourist visitors had reached one million, attracted to luxury beach resorts, natural and historic sites. The return rate for visitors stood at around 30% in 2008. Future projections and bookings announced in 2009 raised fears that the global economic downturn would deal a blow to 2009 and 2010 tourist visits, with a booking rate down from 30% the year before to 5%.

Attractions

Known for its mild climate, attractive beaches and great fishing, Senegal has long been highly regarded by European tourists, mostly French and Belgian U.S. tourists – often African-Americans – are increasing in numbers, drawn in particular by the historic slave trading post of Gorée Island. Principal cities of interest include the capital, Dakar; Saint-Louis, an old colonial town; and the Mouride holy centre of Touba. Gorée Island, formerly a centre of the West African slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, draws many visitors. Most tourists from outside Africa are Europeans, especially French, and a hotel and resort industry centered around enclosed beach resorts, most at resort towns like Saly on the Petite-Côte south of Dakar, have been created to appeal to this clientele since the 1970s. Resort vacations are often supplemented by wildlife and nature tours of areas like the Sine-Saloum Delta, the Grande Côte (north of Dakar), the Lac Rose, and Senegal River delta in the north (near Saint-Louis. Historic sites around Dakar, Gorée Island, Museums, and monuments draw visitors. To the north, the colonial island town of Saint-Louis is visited for its long history and colonial architecture. There are also safari trips offered to see wildlife, perhaps limited by east or South African standards.


National Parks and Reserves

Senegal has a small but developing National Park and Reserve System. Notable among these are the Langue de Barbarie National Park and Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary which provide wildlife habitat in the dunes and mangrove swamps surrounding the mouth of the Senegal River near picturesque city of Saint-Louis. The Niokolo-Koba National Park is a World Heritage Site and natural protected area in south eastern Senegal near the Guinea-Bissau border which protects a large variety of wild animals, including hippopotami, elephants, and lions. Largely undeveloped, the area is remote and lacks tourist infrastructure, but is a destination for specialty tours.

The Basse Casamance National Park, in the far southwest, includes both ecotourism and tropical forest excursions, and a popular coastal beach resort aimed at foreign tourism… The Saloum Delta National Park is a large area of Mangrove estuaries and islands, visited by tourists for it wildlife, its cultural interest as the home of the minority people to the tourist resorts of the Petite-Côte. Smaller parks and reserves, like the Guembeul Natural Reserve in the center west or the Bandia Natural Reserve near Dakar exit primarily for the more conventional European tourist industry, resembling Wildlife Parks or zoos.

African and Senegalese tourism Senegal has a middle class prosperous enough to support local tourism, as well a large population of Senegalese living abroad. Apart from visits to family and friends, the city of Dakar supports a local industry of holiday spots frequented by city dwellers. The beaches and islands to the north of the city, at places like Yoff and Ngar, are particularly popular for Senegalese tourists. Senegalese, other African visitors, and expatriates often travel to religious sites and festivals, especially those connected with powerful Sufi Muslim brotherhoods of Senegal.

Our 2013 Tour